Rebecca Kutler, a longtime CNN talent and development executive who had a hand in the success of anchors and contributors including Abby Phillip and Van Jones, is leaving the news outlet, a move that is said to be raising eyebrows among some of the Warner Bros. Discovery outlet’s team of journalists.
Kutler had most recently been senior vice president and head of programming for CNN+, the much-promoted streaming video hub that was scuttled by CNN’s new corporate parent quickly after the merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia. But her influence at CNN spans well beyond a new streaming effort. She also oversees all analysts, contributors and commentators for CNN, a job she has held since 2015, and was a key lieutenant for former CNN chief Jeff Zucker as well as Amy Entelis, who oversees talent at the news venue
Her departure was announced at a morning editorial meeting on Thursday, according to three people familiar with the matter. CNN declined to comment. During her time, she has worked as an executive producer for Don Lemon and John King, among others and hired Phillip and Andrew McCabe. She played a role in bringing Chris Wallace, Audie Cornish and Kasie Hunt to CNN for the launch of CNN+
Her exit is just the latest in a short line of senior CNN staffers who have left in recent weeks. Andrew Morse, who was overseeing the launch of CNN+, announced he would leave when CNN”s parent scuttled the site. Meredith Artley, editor in chief of CNN Digital, who had been with the company for more than a decade, announced in late May that she had chosen to depart. Alex MacCallum, who had been named interim chief of CNN’s digital operations, is leaving on June 30. And Robyn Peterson, CNN Digital’s chief technology officer, is also leaving.
With new CNN CEO Chris Licht running operations, Warner Bros. Discovery is trying to scale back some of the excesses that developed at CNN during the leadership of Jeff Zucker. Zucker encouraged anchors and correspondents to display their passions about particular topics and issues. Licht, at least so far, has advised more moderation, telling CNN producers to scale back use of the “breaking news” on-screen graphic that has become a cable-news mainstay and focusing more intently on a block of Sunday programming focused on enterprise reporting.
Kutler had worked at CNN for more than two decades, being hired at first to work on Wolf Blitzer’s “Late Edition,” which was based at CNN’s Washington Bureau. She helped develop “The Messy Truth with Van Jones” and “The Axe Files.,” and served as a supervising producer on the CNN Film “We Will Rise” featuring First Lady Michelle Obama and Meryl Streep.